Including women philosophers

April 17, 2011 § 6 Comments

I am a woman philosopher (untenured) at a university that has a 100 % male faculty. Yet it’s only since reading the what’s it like blog that I have come to see much implicit and less implicit bias in our profession. Perhaps this is because several male colleagues have been incredibly supportive of my work. I am now aware that I too, have been subject to the implicit idea that a philosopher is a white male. It is only this year that I have been incorporating female philosophers in my introductory undergraduate course in philosophy of science.  There are so many excellent female philosophers of science, but prior to What’s it like they just did not come to mind. Similarly, I now try to have some sort of gender balance in conferences and workshops. I aim now for at least 50% female invited speakers. It is less easy to control for contributed talks, and I notice that there are often very few women submitting papers.

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§ 6 Responses to Including women philosophers

  • Confused says:

    I’m confused. It’s not possible to be a woman at a university that has a 100% male faculty. If you’re a faculty member, then the percent has to be smaller than 100% male. Do you mean to indicate that you are the only woman on the entire university faculty?

    I’m glad to hear that your experiences with your colleagues have been mostly positive. I’m also glad to hear the bias awareness that you’ve developed from reading the blog. The same has been true for me.

  • Jender says:

    Confused– my assumption was that she’s not on the faculty, but has some other position. (On some uses of the word ‘faculty’, e.g. post-docs might not count as faculty.)

  • Original postwriter says:

    Indeed, as Jender points out, I am a postdoctoral fellow, in a non-tenure track fixed-term contract. Only tenured and tenure-track personnel are counted as faculty, and they are 100 % male. Even at the postdoc level, there are very few women (fewer than 20 %).

  • Heather says:

    I noticed the same thing about the lack of women authors in the course readings I have assigned. I would love to include more articles by women in my upcoming philosophy of science course. I would be interested to see your syllabus, if you could post it (or a link to it). Thanks!

  • Original postwriter says:

    Dear Heather,

    Unfortunately, the syllabus is in Dutch, so that would not help you much. Here are some papers by women authors that were much enjoyed in my undergraduate classes. They are accessible and philosophically relevant:
    – Nancy Cartwright (1997) Where Do Laws of Nature Come From? Dialectica, 51; (1987) Fundamentalism vs the patchwork of laws. Proc Aristotelian Society, 94
    – Alison Wylie (1986) Arguments for scientific realism: the ascending spiral. Am Phil Quart 23; (1999) Rethinking Unity as a “Working Hypothesis”
    for Philosophy of Science: How Archaeologists Exploit the Disunities of Science, Perspectives in Science, 7
    – Nancy Nerssessian, How do scientists think? Capturing the dynamics of conceptual change in scienceHow do scientists think? Capturing the dynamics of conceptual change in science, http://www.cc.gatech.edu/aimosaic/faculty/nersessian/papers/how-do-scientists-think.pdf
    – Helen Longino (1991). Multiplying subjects and the diffusion of power. Journal of Philosophy, 88; (1983) Beyond ‘bad scienc’: skeptical reflections on the value freedom of scientific inquiry. Science, technology and values 8

  • Original postwriter says:

    Oops, that went a bit too quickly. Sorry for the typos. The papers I mention I selected on the basis of them being ‘general’ philosophy of science (not specifically feminist philosophy of science, although I plan to cover that as well; there is excellent stuff in this domain in Hypatia, for instance). They deal with issues that an undergraduate course should include, such as the scientific realism debate and the problem of values in science.

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